Market Recap: RISI Crow's Construction Materials Cost Index


A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for April 1, 2011

*Western - regional species perimeter foundation; Southern - regional species slab construction.

Crow's Market Recap -- A condensed recap of the market conditions for the major North American softwood lumber and panel products as reported in Crow's Weekly Market Report.

LUMBER: SPF mills across Canada continually scoured the market for sales and lowered prices in the process. Takeaways from yards were also reported to be sluggish. Wholesalers heard little from their customers. Southern Pine dimension lumber prices continued to tumble, with month- and quarter-end discounts plentiful. Sales activity for Coastal species lumber was described as "quiet.” As a result, and despite limited production, prices were weak. The Inland species lumber region has been frustrated by "a triple witching week." Weather, the end of the month and the end of the quarter were three negatives that pulled at the market and caused it to crack. Ponderosa Pine Mldg&Btr remains unchanged, and Shop is still moving up slightly. The most active in Commons is #2, with most widths showing upward tendencies. Selects have been adjusted downward among some Inland producers and key northern California producers. Idaho White Pine producers are generally sold out of most key Sterling items. Eastern White Pine is getting more active, especially from Boston south, as weather improves. Radiata Pine Shop is getting more difficult to find and is $10 firmer this week. Buyers of Western Red Cedar purchased at a pace that projected little urgency. Prices were flat, with a little downside in pricing far more prevalent than any upside.

PANELS: Western Fir plywood mills reported a "slower" sales pace, but were generally able to nudge quotes higher. Inquiries for volumes intended for Japan slowed. The price of 1/2-in. 4 ply edged $5 higher, while quotes for 1/2-in. 5 ply ranged from $360 to $370, up from $355. Southern Pine plywood mills bumped rated sheathing prices early by $5 to $10 in response to decent follow-through and order files extended into the week of April 11. Steady sales of specialty panels prompted higher prices for items such as AC, BC and BBOES. The few producers who can supply OSB to Asia are seeing some good volumes of demand. The domestic market, on the other hand, lacks energy, although it does show some steadiness of pace. Two conflicting forces operate in Canadian plywood now: strong export demand and weak domestic demand. Producers have moved prices up another 2% this week, establishing C$322 as the new baseline. Price determination has been a major challenge for particleboard and MDF producers. Now, another expense is being added: exorbitant freight surcharges. The quiet U.S. market has caused buyers to balk at any sort of increase in prices, and none are reported this week.

Source: RISI's Crow's Weekly Market Report

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